Baker leads the NFC in net punting average at 39 yards per punt and was
named a first alternate for the Pro Bowl, verification that Panthers general
manager Marty Hurney made the right move when he shipped three-time Pro Bowl
selection and eternal headache Todd Sauerbrun to the Denver Broncos in
exchange for Baker and a future draft pick.
Even more important, perhaps, is the way Baker has handled himself off
Unlike his outspoken predecessor, Baker hasn't been arrested for DUI,
called any other kickers in the league "grease ball," hammered NFL great Ray
Guy while proclaiming himself the best kicker in NFL history or been
involved in any steroid scandal.
And that's a nice change for the Panthers.
Instead, Baker is a quiet, humble punter who barely smiles and gives all
of his credit to his teammates.
"The first statement that I need to make is that I'm not leading the NFC
in net punting average, the Panthers punt team is leading the NFC in net
average," Baker said. "For me to take more credit for that would not be
Baker's gross punting average is 43.4, which is slightly lower than 43.7
yards per punt. However, Sauerbrun, who tends to out-kick his coverage, has
a net of only 37.8 yards per kick. Sauerbrun has downed 10 punts inside the
20 with eight touchbacks, while Baker has eight punts inside the 20 with